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Royal scions cross swords
- Angry Biswal refuses to contest

Bhubaneswar, March 19: The royals, it seems, are much in demand in this election. The latest among them to be roped in by a political party are the maharaja of the erstwhile princely state of Kalahandi, Udit Pratap Deo, and his queen, Padma Manjari Devi.

Incidentally, the BJD has fielded the scion of the Kalahandi royal family, Arka Keshari Deo, son of former MP Bikram Keshari Deo, as its candidate from the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat.

“Udit Pratap’s joining will strengthen the party in Kalahandi district,” said BJP spokesperson leader Suresh Pujari. While the BJP has fielded former minister Pradipta Nayak as its candidate from Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency, Bhakta Charan Das is the Congress candidate from the seat.

In the adjoining district Balangir, members of the local royal family, K.V. Singh Deo, the state BJP unit president, is locking horns with his younger brother’s wife Prakriti Devi in Patnagarh constituency.

Rajya Sabha member A.U. Singh Deo’s son Kalikesh Singh Deo has been pitted against for the second time against his sister-in-law Sangeeta Singh Deo.

The BJP today roped in leaders from varied political backgrounds. Former finance minister and a stalwart of Ganjam politics, Ramkrushan Patnaik, his wife Kumudini Patnaik and daughter Anita today joined the party. The couple had resigned from the Congress on February 23, alleging that the party had lost direction. Kumudini, a former MP from Aska, had accused the Congress leadership of ignoring her.

In another development, the Congress’s Sundargarh Lok Sabha nominee and sitting MP Hemananda Biswal has declined to contest the polls. He has accused the state leadership of being unfair in ticket distribution. His suggestions were ignored while deciding even the Assembly segments of his seat. However, the Congress is trying to convince the former chief minister, Biswal, not to withdraw from the contest.

“We will talk to him and try to redress his grievances,” said AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes. However, the exodus of leaders from the Congress in the state continued. Senior Congress leader former Bhograi MLA Kartikeswar Patra today severed his ties with the party. Sources said he might join the Trinamool Congress.

In another development, Odisha Maobadi Party chief Sabyasachi Panda’s wife Mili Panda joined the Ama Odisha Party, floated by expelled Congress leader Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. Mili was arrested in 2011 for her alleged links with the Maoist organisation and was acquitted by the court later.

Besides, the Election Commission today issued notification for the second phase polls in Odisha on April 17 for 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly seats. The Lok Sabha seats are Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Bhubaneswar.


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